A ROYTON teacher was left ‘mind blown’ by the support of her pupils, family and friends after her Brave the Shave effort raised more than £1,700 for Macmillan Cancer Support, writes Sabiha Uddin.
Sheila Birkett, a Year 4 teacher at St Paul’s CE Primary School who lives in Mossley, had set an initial target of just £300 and thanked the ‘phenomenal community’ for their help in reaching over five times that amount.
She was inspired to take on the emotional challenge in memory of her mum Liz and her sister Kathleen, plus other family and friends who have dealt with the illness.
Sheila said: “I know the Macmillan team that supported my mum and us during this challenging time did it with care and kindness.
“Shaving my head is a small gesture of my thanks to them. Your donation will have an impact on someone else’s life.”
The headshave took place on the school playing field, where Sheila’s pupils and their families, along with about 20 teachers gathered while more family and friends were also watching via Zoom.
The big occasion had been scheduled to take place a week earlier but was rearranged as Sheila’s class bubble went into isolation for ten days.
“I was gutted when it was cancelled,” admitted Sheila. “But I’m delighted we’ve been able to rearrange it with the support of headteacher Mrs Henderson.
“It means a lot to have the children here. They have enthusiastically supported and encouraged me, donating as little or as much as they can.”
Not only were Sheila’s class there to watch but they also got hands on by each shaving off some of her hair – after a strong warning not to touch her eyebrows or ears!
Three students started off the shave: Tom, who’s family contributed the most, Charlie who made the very first donation of 50p in a Pandora box, and Riley who encouraged his classmates to donate more.
Then other pupils and their siblings, some as young as three years old, also took a turn, with each collecting a sticker and cupcake after for their participation.
Parents, carers and teachers also had a go with the razor before the shave was completed by Becky Lister, who runs Becky’s Salon in Dukinfield and has been Sheila’s hairdresser for many years. She gave up her time on the day for free to support the worthy cause.
Sheila added: “I could not sleep the night before, I had about two hours!
“My mum died when she was 30 and this is something I’ve wanted to do for some time.
“Thank you everybody so much for your support. It means a lot to me and I know it does to you too. It’s overwhelming.”
Headteacher Hilary Henderson added: “The school is now closed for the holidays but we opened up just so this can go ahead. It’s really special to be able to do that for Sheila and the children.
“They missed the end of term because they were isolating so it’s an honour to be able to get them together for something like this.
“Not only is Sheila a very brave lady, she is also a fantastic member of staff, and a very supportive and wonderful teacher.”
Other members of staff, friends and pupils wrote messages of support on a whiteboard which was on display on the field for the event.
Mr Russell wrote “Good luck Miss Birkett, you are very brave” while Laura commented: “Good luck lass. Your mum would be very proud. She may even be having a giggle!”
Jean said “Sheila, you’re a star” and Ruby wrote “It is brave. You’ll look great!”.
You can still support Sheila by donating online: https://bravetheshave.macmillan.org.uk/shavers/sheila-birkett